My students have been learning about insects and plants recently. As usual, they’ve jumped right into it with tons of questions and observations! Our preschool science center has seen a lot of activity during this time . . . even more than usual.
Our preschool science center is a small set up, but so much learning takes place there. I include a variety of items in this center – pictures, books, natural materials, kids’ science tools, etc. Some things I keep there consistently, like our magnifying glasses, while I change other items depending on what we’re learning about.
an insect and plant theme in the preschool science center
Materials included in the center
I’ve set the nature/science center up on a small IKEA table near a window in my classroom. So I pack a lot into a small space! Sometimes I only place a few things out, sometimes I add more based on what we’re learning and what the kiddos are interested in. For this theme, there are a lot of materials at the kids’ request.
Underneath the nature table, I have a basket of books. Sometimes the books cover a variety of science topics. For this theme, though, I’ve tried to stick with books about bugs and plants. They’re non-fiction books, with the fictional stories about plants and insects housed in our reading center.
On top of the small table, I placed a variety of realia related to bugs and plants. There were dead insects, some collected by my students and some from science kits my preschool director purchased. I also added a few types of seeds, as the preschoolers have been asking questions about seeds we eat and seeds we only plant. The kiddos collected some random leaves and plants from the playground, and those were housed in the center as well. The stars of the show, though, are our real-life caterpillars! We’re watching them change into butterflies this month.
Along the window ledge, I added more bits and bobs. There are large pine cones, rocks, and colorful flowers. Some of these items were found by the children, while others were brought in by my boss. On the wall, we have some sign-in sheets about insects. One of them helped me decide which insects to “raise” in our classroom! Thus, the caterpillars.
How the children explore the center
Sometimes the children just pop into the science center and observe the flower and plant materials. They like to grab a magnifying glass, check out a few items and then run off to another center. Other times, they may spend the majority of their center time at the nature table.
They sort the seeds, put the seeds into containers to make “shakers”, or just run their fingers through the seeds. They smell the flowers or rearrange the flowers. The rocks get sorted and piled, and sometimes the rocks migrate to other areas of the classroom. The insects hold the most interest right now, though. The caterpillars have been visited often, and sometimes I’ll find them in different centers “just visiting”.
The children can also record what they observe. There are pencils and mini clipboards on-hand every day at the preschool science center! They can draw pictures and write all about their scientific investigations. I even have a mini insect word wall in a nearby window. That way, the kiddos can grab the word cards they need and bring the cards to the science area when they’re writing.
Having the materials out to touch and explore often leads to more questions. And those questions inevitably lead to more learning . . . for both the students and me! 🙂
- Fun-A-Day’s flower and plant Pinterest board
- Fun-A-Day’s insect Pinterest board
- My Nearest and Dearest’s Nature Table
- Buggy and Buddy’s Summer Nature Table
- How Wee Learn’s Indoor Nature Activities
- Sun Hats and Wellie Boots’ Harvesting Seeds from the Garden
- The Imagination Tree’s Nature Exploration Table
What items do you have out for your insect or plant theme? Do you have a nature/science center in your classroom or home?